Genn is Happy with Win in $25,000 Jacksonville Finale
GREEN COVE SPRINGS, FL.—Feb 9,2008–
It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. Wilhelm Genn and tonight’s incomparable Happy Z were the winners of the $25,000 Jacksonville Finale Grand Prix presented by Grubb & Ellis, the closing event of the four-week Jacksonville Winter Series.
Genn and his equine partner vanquished 24 competitors, including such seasoned riders as Bill Lowry, Canadian champion Hugh Graham, and Olympic qualifier Sharn Wordley. And if that wasn’t enough happiness for one night Bill Lowry was awarded the Winter Series’ $10,000 Reynolds, Smith, and Hills Grand Prix Rider Bonus.
Wilhelm piloted 4 mounts this evening. “My plan was to have all the horses clean, have all in the jump off, go real fast with the first one and put the pressure on Bill,” said an ecstatic Genn, while sharing his victorious moment and a lot of joking with 2nd place winner of the Prix Bill Lowry, who narrowly beat out Genn for the $10,000 Rider bonus. “Didn’t work cause the first one [Chantal] knocked a rail down.” added Genn with a roar of laughter. The two good friends have been neck and neck for the big bonus check throughout the Jacksonville Series. “We have a healthy competitiveness,” quipped Wilhelm while Bill laughed heartily.
Both riders were in agreement that when walking the course, “We thought it was too easy” Wilhelm commented then added, “But then we did that on Thursday too and there were only 2 in the jump off.” It was a course just technical enough that you didn’t know if there’d be 15 or 2 clean. “I thought it was a careful course. The important part was to leave the verticals up, that was for me the main thing. The oxers were easy, because they were airy.” Wilhelm said of the first round and Lowry added a short, “I’d agree with that.”, but after some laughter subsided said in a more serious tone, “It was the easiest course we had so far this series.”
The course, designed by the nationally recognized Tim Hott, had the teams navigating 13 obstacles in the first round with a time allowed of 90 seconds. “I expected fence No. 7 on the far spooky end or the #12 Swedish oxer to be the trouble spots,” admitted Hott. Instead many of the competitors succumbed to fence No. 13, the very last obstacle-a basic vertical. Wilhelm attributed the many rails down there to some advice his mother gave all the siblings, “My mother never rode. She always told us, boys when you go to the horse show watch the first and the last jump. She never rode, but she knew that and I think it’s still the same way.” Bill added, “A lot people who were clean up to that point, let their guard down a little bit-if they know they’re on a distance they might lighten up just a touch and that’s all it takes sometimes. You’ve got to ride to the end.”
It was “lucky 13” for Genn, who went clean in the first round with 3 of his 4 rides; Chantal, owned by Laura Ryan Barnaclo in 84.200, new comer Loredo the 7 year-old Mecklenburg gelding owned by Micaela Kennedy with a time of 88.254, and Happy Z the brilliant 10 year-old mare owned by Wilhelm and wife Patty in a time of 85.254. His were among the 11 riders to make the jump off, along with second place finisher Bill Lowry, aboard the 12 year-old Hessen gelding of Winsor Farm Sales,Inc- Rio Corde who completed the first track in 82.426. Also joining Wilhelm were son Theo, making his 7th Grand Prix appearance with mount Ariado and Genn’s student Denise Wilson with new partner Life Is Life 15 finishing clear in 85.086 and 84.591 respectively. The best advice given to the younger Genn from dad about unlucky #13, “Think like there’s 3 more fences after that.” Also joining the field of 11 for the jump off was New Zealand native Sharn Wordley with the big strided Mr. Flanagan, and he had an added incentive to win tonight, as the contest for the series bonus had come down to this event and these three riders and after a stellar first round time of 82.640 for Sharn, it was anyone’s game.
As Tim Hott’s crew sprang into action setting the final round, Tony Weight and Susan Rindal of the North Florida Hunter Association along with Jamie Hartley-owner of the Gift Horse and sponsor of the riders lounge throughout the series-met in the center of the ring for the much anticipated drawing for a new golf cart. Tickets sold throughout the 4 weeks all go to benefit the Clay County 4H club. And the winner is…Mary Eufemia of Clearwater, FL. She could be heard exclaiming, “Oh Lord, I don’t believe it!” but happily accepted the keys from Tony.
With the sound of the jump off buzzer, the heat was on. But to paraphrase the popular song “tonight was the night.” Wilhelm was first to have a go, but faulted midway and finished in a time of 37.665 with the 4 penalties. “I knew that was one of his bullets, I knew Chantal was fast and has a lot of mileage. With Rio, he’s a great horse and jumps a lot of clear rounds.”Bill Lowry gave his analysis of the final round, “He’s starting to cut back on the turns, but he’s not as fast as Wilhelm’s two horses. So I had no chance of catching them, I’ve always been 2 seconds slower..like tonight. My plan was to go as fast as I can and leave the jumps up. See what happens. A lot of times you have a big jump off like this and people self-destruct, a lot of them did again tonight. Everyone’s trying to go so fast to win the class and they make mistakes.” Bill and Rio were next to tackle the abbreviated course of 7 obstacles; they set a blazing pace going clean in 36.430, nearly 10 seconds below the allowed 47.
Now all Lowry could do was to watch the remaining 9 from the end gate. Wordley followed and gave a 200 percent effort, but a rail down at #13 stopped their hopes of victory while finishing with a fast 34.730 on the clock. Genn returned with the youngster Loredo and succeeded in a second clear round with a time of 38.095. Lowry held his breath still. Another 4-fault finish came with Roberto Teran aboard Distant Star 3E finishing in 34.679. Lowry continued to watch anxiously as Genn’s student Denise Wilson returned with Life, going clear but just a bit slower at 38.050. And then the air changed as Wilhelm and Happy Z not only went clean, but they went at warp speed: Genn and “the little mare who can” stopped the clock at 34.002. The audience was electrified with their performance. Lowry moved to 2nd but knew if he could just hold on to that, the bonus award was still in reach. Last year’s winner of the Finale Prix Tommy Feigel and Contendress gave an all or nothing run until the very last fence, the back rail made a thud and left the pair finishing with 4-faults in 34.762. Both the excitement and tension grew around the arena, as only three riders remained, three who could change Genn and Lowry’s fate for better or worse. Veteran rider and local favorite Chuck Waters took flight on 747 with a soaring ride over the last oxer to go clean, but 3 seconds too late, finishing in 37.246. Next in, Theo Genn and Ariado, prior to the jump off Wilhelm teased his son a bit, “I told him if he makes it in between us [Bill and Wilhelm] he’ll get 10% of it [the winnings]-then he says I think it should be at least 25%” Theo had a fast time of 36.440, Wilhelm shared the conversation following his son’s ride, “First thing he said was Dad I think I had Bill’s time.” but an unfortunate 8 faults came with his finish. Bill joined in the ribbing, “Yeah, I thought watching him go around, boy is this kid gonna catch a beating if I don’t get 3rd tonight.” One last contender of the night held Wilhelm and Bill’s outcome in his hooves, Lupin Du Rezidal with Gaetan Stalparet in the irons crossed the start line with the intent on being the spoiler, but when the clock stopped it was not to be. The pair finished clean in a time of 39.852. Assuring Wilhelm the Grand Prix victory and Bill Lowry the Rider Bonus award. “I was praying they were either gonna whoop Wilhelm or be slower than me.” laughed Bill upon learning the official results.
Presenting the Grand Prix awards this evening were Tony Weight, president of the North Florida Hunter Jumper Association; sponsor Grubb & Ellis Sr Vice Presidents Russell and Patty Bornstein along with Mike Wilson and daughters Jennifer and Juliet.
Following the Grand Prix ribbon presentation Tony Weight, Jim Hawkes-Vice President of Reynolds, Smith, & Hills accompanied by his wife Allison, and Chris Hanrahan- Vice President Regional Development Corporate Real Estate for Wachovia Bank gather to honor the Series’ best rider, according to a four-week-long point system, with a $10,000 check, which went Bill Lowry. Bill has competed throughout the series on two mounts that he owns and trains: Rio Corde and last week’s grand prix winner Polygraaf. When Bill was asked what his plans are for the extra check, Wilhelm interjected, “Before the class I said whoever wins tonight buys dinner and Bill said oh I was thinking more of a fishing trip.” At which time Bill explained, “at the time I thought I was gonna lose.” Wilhelm laughed and said “Yeah, I’m holding him to the fishing trip now.” Bill agreed happily to uphold the deal. Could there be another contest here or just a lot of big fish stories?
The healthy competition with these two friends will resume quite soon, as the Classic Company will present another $10,000 Bonus Award to one winning rider at the conclusion to the 5-week Gulfport Winter Series, where both are headed, which begins on Feb. 13th at the Harrison County Showgrounds in Gulfport, Mississippi.
The Jacksonville Finale wraps up on Sunday with the naming of the $5,000 Bruning Foundation High Point Hunter Award, presented to the top rider, calculated by earned points, of the four-week series.
For more information or results on the 2008 Jacksonville Winter Series please visit www.classiccompany.com or call the show office at 904-284-9492.